October rambling: direct the whirlwind

Washington can’t be trusted

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Inside the most brutal dictatorship you’ve never heard of

America’s Forgotten Mass Lynching: When 237 People Were Murdered in Arkansas

Why Are Poor Countries Poor?

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Compounding Pharmacies

Before He Animated For Disney, Willie Ito Sketched Cartoons In An Internment Camp

Diversity, inequality and prejudice

John Fugelsang: the enemies of Christianity

Edison and Tesla’s cutthroat ‘Current War’ ushered in the electric age

The amazing feat of extreme auto engineering by Frenchman Emile Leray allowed him to escape being stranded in a Moroccan desert in 1993

Annie Lennox: Maverick sat down with MSNBC’s Ari Melber at MASS MoCA

Are Expired Pregnancy Tests Accurate?

Tim Urban: Inside the mind of a master procrastinator

‘Jeopardy!’ host Alex Trebek may leave the show over cancer battle

You’re welcome, Arthur

Robert Forster, Oscar-Nominated ‘Jackie Brown’ Actor, Dead at 78

Rip Taylor, Flamboyant Comic and Host of ‘The $1.98 Beauty Show,’ Dies at 84

Facebook cloning scam; you were not hacked

Tigger – PRONUNCIATION: TIG-uhr
MEANING: noun: Someone filled with energy, cheerfulness, and optimism.
ETYMOLOGY: After Tigger, a tiger in A.A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner (1928). Earliest documented use: 1981.

Now I Know: The Kind of Amazing Thing That Happens When You Lose $13 and How Baseball Closed Its Tiny Loophole and When Speeding Won’t Get You There Any Faster and What Canada Has In Common With Romulans and How a Cute Cartoon Created a Catastrophe of Raccoons

Serena Versus the Drones

GHWB

The family trekked to Kennebunk and Kennebunkport ME the first weekend in October 2019. We got to pass through four states – NY, MA, NH, ME – in less than five hours. Twice in three days.

We went to a nice little museum, with a historical house. When it was in danger of closing in 2011, President George H.W. Bush offered to have some of his memorabilia be collected in one large room of the museum. This saved the day. I wasn’t a huge fan of the Bushes, but this was a kind and decent offer.

djt

Everything He’s an Expert In, According to Him

Mark Evanier has decided that until djt leaves office — and maybe even after — he “will feature one story each day about what he’s doing to The World, America, The Rule of Law, The Dignity of the Executive Branch and himself. He, of course, is concerned only with the last of these.”

His capitulation to Erdogan destroys U.S. credibility; by abandoning America’s Kurdish partners in Syria, the White House has sent a message to allies everywhere that Washington can’t be trusted. It’s just him being himself.

More Answers to Impeachment Objections

Alexander Hamilton warned that a man “unprincipled in private life desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper, possessed of considerable talents… despotic in his ordinary demeanour — known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty” might “throw things into confusion that he may ‘ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.'” from “Founders foresaw Trump nightmare,” USA Today.com, October 7, 2019

Keeping Refugees Out Makes the United States Less Safe

MUSIC

Ginger Baker: A Jazz Drummer With a Rock Reputation

Viviane by Ernest Chausson

Beethoven: Symphony No.9 in D Minor, Op.125 – “Choral” – 4. Presto – Allegro assai · Jessye Norman · Reinhild Runkel · Robert Schunk · Hans Sotin · Chicago Symphony Chorus · Chicago Symphony Orchestra · Sir Georg Solti

Here, There And Everywhere – MonaLisa Twins

Hits from the Andrews Sisters’ songbook – Voctave

Jokerman – John Cruz

Coverville: 1280: Abbey Road 50th Anniversary Album Cover and 1281: Lindsey Buckingham Cover Story

Everybody’s Everything – Steve Winwood and Sheila E., Orianthi, honoring Carlos Santana at the Kennedy Center Honors

Once Upon a Time from The Princess Bride

Pitchfork: The 200 best songs of the 2010s; I own maybe a half dozen of them, and recognize perhaps that many more

The Unsolved Case of the Most Mysterious Song on the Internet

Book review: The Quartet by Joseph J. Ellis

Ellis reminds us that democracy was viewed skeptically in the 18th century

Given all the other tomes on my bookshelf, I surprised myself by checking out from the library, The Quartet by Joseph J. Ellis (2015), the author of Founding Brothers and American Sphinx, about Thomas Jefferson.

The subtitle, Orchestrating The Second American Revolution, 1783-1789, informs how George Washington, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, along with others such as Robert Morris and Gouverneur Morris (not related), got the thirteen colonies, who had fought off the British, came to accept another centralized government.

A lot of reviewers noted, and it was my experience as well, that our American history courses in high school presented the narrative of the last quarter of the 18th period woefully incompletely. There was the revolutionary fury of the Declaration of Independence and the war, which was reasonably well laid out. The Articles of Confederation -they failed, but why? – followed. Then the Founders came up with the Constitution – but how? – including the Bill of Rights.

In fighting the American Revolution, the colonists were cohesive in that limited battle against the British. However, the notion that these 13 nation-states would then relinquish their independence to accept the creation of a powerful federal government was no guarantee. Certain visionaries diagnosed that structure created by the Articles of Confederation was doomed to fail. They suggested conventions, purportedly to amend the Articles, but ultimately to throw them out.

As Newsday noted: Ellis’ account of the run-up to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and the subsequent state-by-state ratification process is so pacey it almost reads like a thriller. New Yorker Hamilton, fearful that anarchy was looming, developed a national vision first; Madison was just a bit behind. Jay, serving as foreign affairs secretary, was trying to fashion coherent foreign policy. But all agreed that if their efforts were to succeed, a reluctant Washington, who had retired to Mount Vernon, had to be on board. Washington’s revolutionary credentials were unassailable.

“In 1780, most Americans, having thrown off the fetters of a faraway central power, would have thought the kind of national government envisioned by Washington and Co. as peculiar in the extreme. Some historians have viewed the Constitution as a betrayal of the American Revolution by a cabal of elites who crushed an emerging democracy. Ellis, however, reminds us that democracy was viewed skeptically in the 18th century; he prefers to see the efforts the quartet as ‘a quite brilliant rescue’ of revolutionary principles.”

I totally agree that, for a topic that could be very dry, I found the book surprisingly engaging. Ellis explains how the Founders, even those opposing slavery such as Hamilton, essentially ducked the question for the cause of federalism, hoping the topic would be addressed down the road, which it was, decades later.

I should mention that I got the large-print version of The Quartet because that happened to be the edition near the checkout. I didn’t NEED it, but I’m not complaining about it either.

March rambling: complicated meanings

Luna Lee on the gayageum

At Current Rates Of Use World Could Run Out Of Thoughts And Prayers By As Early As 2019

We Are all Nixonians Now

There Are No Good Guys With Guns

What To Do When Racists Try To Hijack Your Religion

‘National Geographic’ Reckons With Its Past: ‘For Decades, Our Coverage Was Racist’

‘Stay Strong,’ And Other Useless Drivel We Tell The Grieving

The Encyclopedia of the Missing

When the only way to go free is to plead guilty

3 Far-Flung Cities Offer Clues to Unsnarling Manhattan’s Streets

OVERLOOKED: 15 obits of notable women

Alaska as a Red-to-Blue(ish) Model

‘The story of a weird world I was warned never to tell’

Union College says it found strand of George Washington’s hair

Stop Using the Label ‘Struggling Reader,’ Author Jacqueline Woodson Advises

Why Do We Need to Sleep?

The Unexpected Benefit of Train Travel

Rare Photo of Harriet Tubman Preserved

Digging into my family’s claims of Cherokee ancestry

in praise of soft targets

Stephen Hawking dies at 76 on Einstein’s birthday and Pi day; despite ALS, his mind roamed the cosmos

RIP, David Ogden Stiers

Dalai Lama, Chicago in May 2008:
“The universe is in a constant state of becoming—an ongoing miraculous creation. Every day we awaken to that miracle with gratitude, respect, and compassion for all who share the gift of being.”

Memories of ‘M*A*S*H’: Inside Stories of the Most Famous Episodes (and Castings)

The Loophole

Smartphones Are Getting Dumber…on Purpose

A Finnish comedian explains the complicated meanings of an English word

Legendary toy demonstrated to have squirrel-repelling properties

Faking It: The Obviously Dubbed Telephone Ring

Aldi’s supermarkets history

A PhD In Batman

A niece at Carnegie Hall

Now I Know: The Florida City Fueled by Soda and Baseball’s Unluckiest Fan and How Bazooka Joe Lost a Baseball Glove

Not me: Couple begins rekindling an eighth-grade romance

MUSIC

Camille Saint-Saens’s Septet for piano, trumpet, and strings, Opus 65!

Hamilton Polka

The Music of Paolo Tosti – Carla Fisk and Michael Clement

Will Jesus Wash The Bloodstains From Your Hands – Hazel Dickens

Everlasting Arms – Luke Winslow-King, Vasti Jackson, Dr. John, and Roots Gospel Voices of Mississippi

Norma Tanega (and Dusty Springfield)

There Is A Time – The Darlings (Andy Griffith Show)

Tush – Luna Lee on the gayageum

Cover of Take on Me (a-ha)

Sound of Silence – Todd Hoffman

Taxman – Joe Bonamassa, Live at The Cavern Club

Inside the Life of Brenda Lee, the Pop Heroine Next Door

H is for the Alexander Hamilton effect

Eliphalet Nott delivered a “powerful sermon condemning the practice of dueling.”

As a result of the tremendous success of the musical about the United States’ first Treasury Secretary, there have several articles referring to “the Hamilton effect.” This 2016 article in Playbill describes saving the $10 bill, popularizing Hamilton as a first name, and increasing an interest in late 18th century American history. See also here and here, for instance.

In the Albany, NY area, the Hamilton effect is strong. The historic Schuyler Mansion celebrates 100 years as state-run site. It’s a bigger deal than it might be because Alexander Hamilton married Elizabeth Schuyler “in the mansion’s parlor on Dec. 14, 1780. The couple lived in Albany for nearly two years after their marriage and they brought their children on summer vacations to the 32 Catherine St. house. Scholars believe Hamilton wrote three of the 85 articles known as the Federalist Papers in the house.”

My wife finished Ron Chernow’s acclaimed biography, all 832 pages of it, this summer. The daughter insists that we listen to the music every time we are in the car. This is actually less than last year when the playing was nonstop.

“Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash Broadway musical altered the lives of countless unsuspecting fans with a powerful history lesson embedded in hypnotic, rhyming lyrics and a hip-hop beat.” It won 11 of 16 Tony awards for which it was nominated.

Long before the phenomenon, we were positively disposed toward Hamilton. A. Ham’s wife was a member of First Presbyterian Church, my current church, albeit in a different location.

Upon the death of Alexander Hamilton in 1804, highly-regarded First Presbyterian minister Eliphalet Nott delivered a “powerful sermon condemning the practice of dueling. It had a profound influence in curtailing the custom and has been recognized to this day as a work of great oratory.” I heard the sermon delivered at First Pres in 2004.

The three of us are hoping to finally see Hamilton in the next couple years.

The soundtrack
The soundtrack
The Hamilton Mixtape: Immigrants (We Get The Job Done)
Hamilton’s “rap” still rings true today

“Their just powers from the consent of the governed”

Political parties would “push a narrow, self-interested agenda that would block the national interest” and “create a deadlocked and dysfunctional democracy” that would “leave citizens frustrated by inefficiency and ineffectiveness.”

Call me a cockeyed optimist, but I have found many things that have taken place on the political landscape in the last six months or so worthy of celebration.

There have been protests, many of them local, for banning the bomb, upholding women’s rights, protecting the immigrant and the refugee, saving the environment, and several other causes.

People are becoming actively engaged in the political process, working on special elections, running for office, or at least considering it. They are showing up at town halls when members of Congress come back to town.

The veil is coming off FOX “news”. Yet other news outlets are thriving.

A couple interviews on the Daily Show with Trevor Noah in June 2017, on successive days in June 2017, gave me encouragement. William J. Barber II is shifting the moral conversation about the poor, a group neither major candidate for President talked about last year. Among other things, Rev. Barber is the architect of the Forward Together Moral Monday Movement.

I was also taken by John Avlon. The Daily Beast’s Editor-in-Chief was promoting his new book “Washington’s Farewell: The Founding Father’s Warning to Future Generations.”

George Washington feared, he explained, that political parties would “push a narrow, self-interested agenda that would block the national interest” and “create a deadlocked and dysfunctional democracy” that would leave citizens “so frustrated by the inefficiency and ineffectiveness that it could open the door to a demagogue with authoritarian ambitions.”

And by demagogue, I mean “a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power.”

So on this Independence Day, it is important to note the words of another of our Founders, Alexander Hamilton: “Of those men who have overturned the liberty of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by playing an obsequious court to the people, commencing demagogues and ending tyrants.”

We must always push back against tyranny.